There’s no such thing as a silver lining with COVID-19. In a strange twist of fate, however, the pandemic presents a unique opportunity for horseback riding.
Even with states gradually reopening, most sports activities for kids will take weeks or months to regroup and restart. Team sports are especially impacted, as traditional activities such as baseball, football, soccer and field hockey don’t allow for social distancing. Many summer season activities are already cancelled, and fall sports are questionable.
This leaves parents looking for easily accessible athletic activities that get their children out of the house while allowing for social distancing. Horseback riding fits this bill perfectly. In fact, anecdotal information indicates that riding lessons are already seeing an uptick in many states.
Time To Ride is an initiative of the American Horse Council (AHC) Marketing Alliance. Its purpose is to introduce school-age children to horseback riding and horse care in a safe, welcoming environment through lessons at approved barns. To connect more kids with horses while helping the horse industry recover from the pandemic, the Time To Ride program has been revised to create three tiers of lesson facilities: Gold; Silver; and Bronze. “Adding the Silver and Bronze levels to Time To Ride gives us a broader base of lesson programs across the country, enabling us to fill the need for kids’ athletic activities while helping instructors and lesson facilities recover financially,” said Molly O’Brien, Time To Ride Program Manager.
Lesson facilities that meet the current Time to Ride Program Facility standards will be designated as Gold tier. Silver and Bronze tiers have fewer requirements. Time To Ride provides individualized marketing materials and support so lesson instructors and facilities can publicize their lesson programs to their local markets. The marketing materials provided for local outreach will be specific to each tier.
American Horse Council President Julie Broadway said, “Lesson barns and instructors have taken a big financial hit along with everyone else because of the ongoing pandemic. While Time To Ride’s goal is to attract new kids to horses, as a program of the American Horse Council, it also has a role in supporting the overall equine industry. Helping lesson programs rebuild is a step toward fulfilling that larger mission.”
To learn more about Time To Ride, review the requirements and apply, visit www.timetoride.org.